MTH-V: Joni Mitchell Live

I know I’ve mentioned Joni a number of times on this blog. And much like my personal arrival to her music, I was exposed to her via a variety of secondary sources before diving deep into her own catalogue. Be it a couple friends who are devotees, Miles Electric: Another Kind of Blue, James Taylor, Tom Scott, Robert Downey Jr.‘s tenure on Ally McBeal, or my fondness for Love Actually, it seemed like she was always popping up somewhere in my periphery. So a few years ago I blindly purchased Court and Spark, and I quickly burned that entire album into my brain. (“Car On A Hill” is one of the best songs I own.) She always pleases, and my Joni collection and knowledge continues to grow.

Not only is Joni a top-notch songwriter, but she knows how to surround herself with first-rate musicians. While I often like to reference Shadows & Light, for which Joni uses a backing band of jazz giants, that’s far from the only example. She seems to know that by composing and singing she’s done her job, and therefore she doesn’t need to worry about being “shown up” by the other instrumentalists – that’s what they’re there for. Perhaps her decades-long fondness for Miles goes beyond the music, extending to his unparalleled skills as a bandleader. It definitely makes me wonder…

This video is of a live performance of the Hejira‘s title track in Japan. Her band includes the one and only Wayne Shorter as well as Pino Palladino. As with any context, when Wayne’s on stage, great things are sure to happen…

As a little bonus, here’s a rocket-fueled performance of Court and Spark‘s “Raised on Robbery” from 1974 by Joni with Tom Scott & The L.A. Express. Despite the annoying chirping (no doubt a holdover from transferring this damaged old recording to digital…), it’s the highest quality version of this particular performance I could find. Love it.

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